Now is the time for human resources professionals to prove they can lead on diversity, rather than have it taken away from them, the second in command at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has urged.
Linda Holbeche, research and policy director at the CIPD, said HR must seize the diversity agenda as its own, as it is one of the function’s chief ways prove its worth to the business.
Last month, Trevor Phillips, chairman of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which launches next month, said that diversity should be taken away from HR and become a separate function within businesses – to ensure that the issue cuts right across recruitment, products and services.
“HR must seize the diversity agenda – we don’t need tonnes more policy around what diversity needs.”
Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today at the CIPD annual conference in Harrogate, Holbeche said: “HR must seize the diversity agenda. The function has the licence to create greater awareness across business to make managers and employers know the reality of diversity and equal opportunities.
“Diversity is the arena in which HR can exercise leadership – it has owned diversity for years just as it owned equal opportunities, and it is one way it can prove the business case of having an HR function.”
Holbeche denied any implication that the move to take diversity away from HR was because departments could not cope.
“I hope it is not the case that HR cannot manage. HR now has an opportunity to prove it can lead on diversity issues,” she added.
Holbeche joined the CIPD earlier this year and was previously director of research and strategy at Roffey Park Institute for 12 years.